World Council of Churches – News Release
For immediate release: 31 March 2005
WCC deeply concerned about the status of Jerusalem
Expressing alarm about new political developments which adversely affect the status of Jerusalem, the director of the WCC’s Commission of the Churches on International Affairs issued an open letter today reiterating the position of its member churches and calling for "an open and inclusive Jerusalem, a city of shared sovereignty and citizenship, a city of two peoples and three faiths, of Christians, Muslims and Jews".
The letter was issued in the context of recent urgent expressions of concern by churches and NGOs about unilateral land acquisition by the Israeli authorities and the latest plans for the Israeli security wall in the Jerusalem area.
The Commission of Churches on International Affairs is the specialized instrument of the WCC for political and security issues.
The full text of the open letter is given below:
AN OPEN LETTER ON THE STATUS OF JERUSALEM
From Peter Weiderud, director,
Commission of the Churches on International Affairs, WCC
The World Council of Churches is deeply concerned about actions by the Government of Israel which threaten the achievement of a just peace for both Israel and Palestine by pre-empting negotiations on the final status of Jerusalem within the framework of international law. This letter reiterates the position of the WCC on a matter of critical importance.
While world attention is drawn to its Gaza withdrawal plans, the Government of Israel has intensified unilateral programs to consolidate control over Jerusalem and other occupied territory. These include:
The WCC has long affirmed that the final status of Jerusalem must be part of a comprehensive peace settlement and be negotiated without delay; that the unilateral annexation of Jerusalem by the Government of Israel puts regional and world peace in jeopardy; that alterations of boundaries, population and settlements which change the religious, cultural or historical character of Jerusalem without the consent of the parties involved and the approval of the international community are violations of the Fourth Geneva Convention.
Irregular transfers of church-held land from one side to the other only add to the alarm of those who hope for justice; all such transfers must be annulled.
The WCC calls for an open and inclusive Jerusalem, a city of shared sovereignty and citizenship, a city of two peoples and three faiths, of Christians, Muslims and Jews. Now is the time to cease actions that pre-empt peace in Jerusalem and to begin negotiation of Jerusalem’s final status within the framework of international law.